Pharmacist collaboration in HCV, HIV extends the reach of care

In 2016, Congress awarded the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) with funding that would let it provide care for all veterans with hepatitis C virus (HCV), regardless of stage.

In 2016, Congress awarded the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) with funding that would let it provide care for all veterans with hepatitis C virus (HCV), regardless of stage. To address this additional caseload, VA Long Beach Healthcare System recruited Macy Ho, PharmD, an infectious disease pharmacist and liver specialist, to handle some of the less advanced cases. Ho noted there are many HCV patients among the vets, and at that point they wanted to avoid any delays in treatment. "To do that, our process is that they all have to see the liver pharmacist first," Ho said. "They may see the hepatologist if they have complications and they need to be cleared, or something's going on. If the patient's numbers are good and they have no signs of advanced liver disease, they come straight to us." Ho said an advantage of involving pharmacists in HCV and HIV treatment is that there are not enough doctors to monitor these patients, who do not require as much medical intervention as the sickest ones. "Because HCV is curable, the treatment's only 3 months long, and the drugs are so well tolerated, we can treat a lot of patients by expanding the number of providers to include pharmacists," she explained.